Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 9th, 2011
Theatrical Release Dates: Belgium, 1971 (Daughters of Darkness), Spain, 1972 (The Blood Spattered Bride)
Directors: Harry Kümel (Daughters of Darkness), Vicente Aranda (The Blood Spattered Bride)
Cast: John Karlen, Delphine Seyrig, Danielle Ouimet, Andrea Rau (Daughters of Darkness), Simón Andreu, Maribel Martín, Alexandra Bastedo, Rosa-Maria Rodrigues (The Blood Spattered Bride)
BluRay released: March 1st, 2011
Approximate running time: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono French
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, English on French Version
BluRay Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region 0
Retail Price: $29.98
Daughters of Darkness: Newlyweds are delayed on their way home to England. They are forced to stay at a European resort during its off season. Shortly after their arrival they meet one of the few guests staying at the resort a countess named Elizabeth Bathory and her servant Ilona. The newlyweds quickly fall prey to the countesses’ web of seduction which puts a strain on their marriage when they let jealousy get the better of them.
Harry Kümel’s Daughters of Darkness is one of the great examples of what a classic exploitation film should be with its blood soaked scenes of carnage and sexual escapades. The film far exceeds its limited budget with its sweeping camera shots that fully exploit every inch of the locations being used. The film is filled with atmosphere which extends to its hypnotic score and use of strong primary colors like red and blue.
Also one must not overlook the superb acting from the films four leads John Karlen (Dark Shadows) as the sadistic husband, Danielle Ouimet as the passive wife, Andrea Rau as the faithful servant who craves her own freedom form the countess and the most mesmerizing performance of all by actress Delphine Seyrig (Last Year at Marienbad) as the countess Elizabeth Bathory. Daughters of Darkness, was one of the first Euro-Cult titles that I stumbled across many years ago and watching once again only enhances my appreciation for this extraordinary film.
The Blood Spattered Bride: Susan is young bride who has trouble adjusting to marriage and her husbands’ often violent ways. The more Susan starts to dig deeper into her husbands’ family’s past the more her mental state deteriorates. Susan soon believes that she is being visited by Mircalla Karstein one of her husbands’ descendants who two hundred years before murdered her husband. Now she wants Susan to follow suit and kill her husband.
The Blood Spattered Bride was co-written and directed Vicente Aranda (The Exquisite Cadaver, Sex Change). The screenplay for The Blood Spattered Bride was adapted from Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu’s novel tilted ‘Carmila’. This novel has been adapted several times for the silver screen. With the most famous adaptions being Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr, Blood and Roses, The Vampire Lovers and Let’s Scare Jessica to Death. The cinematographer on The Blood Spattered Bride was Fernando Arribas, who’s other notable films as a cinematographer include Death Walks in High Heels, Death Walks at Midnight, The Legend of Blood Castle and Cannibal Apocalypse.
Even though the premise is ripe with possibilities. The end result is a slow moving melodrama. That saves its best stuff for its final act. Another drawback is this film’s inability to decide whether it is an all out exploitation film or an art house film with a message. In between moments of rape, bloodletting and other marital woes. This film tries to inject subtext about feminism. With varied results. The one area in which this film does excel is its visuals that give this meandering film some much needed atmosphere. Performance wise the cast are adequate at best. With the only performance leaving any lasting impression being Alexandra Bastedo (Stigma) in the role of Mircalla Karstein. Another performance of note is Simón Andreu (Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion) in the role of the husband. Without a doubt the most disappointing aspect of this production. Is the performance of its leading lady Maribel Martín in the role of the bride.
Daughters of Darkness comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. With this being the third home video release of Daughter of Darkness that I have seen to date. The Other two being Anchor Bay’s 1998 DVD release and Blue Underground’s 2006 DVD release. And while the differences between these two releases was substantial. Both of these releases pale in comparison to latest incarnations of Daughters of Darkness. This is another strong Hi Def transfer from Blue Underground that improves upon their previous release in every way. With the biggest upgrade being the amount of detail present in every frame. There are no problems with compression and DNR is kept in check.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD Mono mix in English and a DTS-HD Mono mix in French. Subtitle options include English SDH, French, Spanish and English on French Version. The audio is in great shape as everything sounds crystal clear and consistent throughout. With the film’s score and more ambient aspects of the soundtrack benefiting most from these two audio mixes.
Daughters of Darkness was previously released by Blue Underground on DVD in 2006. And for this release the majority of the extras from that limited edition release have been carried over for this release. The extras not carried over from that release include a poster & stills gallery and a theatrical trailer for The Blood Splattered Bride. Extras for this release include 4 radio spots, a theatrical trailer (2 minutes 9 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and three interviews “Locations of Darkness” with Harry Kumel and producer/co-writer Pierre Drouot (21 minutes 37 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), “Playing the Victim” with Danielle Ouimet (15 minutes 29 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and “Daughter of Darkness” with Andrea Rau (7 minutes 59 seconds – anamorphic widescreen). All the interviews are excellent as they all remembered with vivid detail working on the film and with each other. Rounding out the extras is two audio commentaries the first one with Harry Kumel and it is moderated by David Gregory and the second audio commentary is with John Karlen and writer David DelValle. The first audio commentary is the more lively and informative of the two. The John Karlan audio commentary while not as lively still offers many fascinating stories about the film. All the extra content on this release is presented in standard definition.
Also included with this release is the feature film The Blood Splattered Bride (100 minutes 56 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, Dolby Digital mono English, 480P standard definition. The version of The Blood Spattered Bride included with this release looks and sounds like the one include with the previous Daughters of Darkness DVD release. Also the Spanish language ends credits have not been restored and are still MIA. Overall Daughters of Darkness gets a strong BluRay release from Blue Underground.